As conservative states in the United States rush to ban abortion after the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify this right at the federal level, the battle over abortion is already shifting to another area: that of abortion pills.
Limited in what it can do, the Biden administration will focus on expanding access to these pills for women living in states where abortion is banned or severely restricted. But it’s more than likely that some of these states and powerful conservative groups will go to court to try and ban its use.
Shortly after Friday’s Supreme Court announcement, the Democratic president asked health officials to make sure abortion pills are available to American women. “all in (his) power” to protect women’s rights in states where the decision would affect them.
The pills, which can be used up to 10 weeks pregnant in the United States, are responsible for half of the abortions in the country. Demand is expected to rise further after a dozen states have banned abortion or imposed draconian restrictions, with more expected to follow.
Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch doctor whose organization provides abortion pills on the internet, says the situation is not as desperate as it was before the shutdown “Roe v. Waden” of 1973, which guaranteed the right to abortion anywhere in the country.
‘We cannot stop the circulation of abortion pills’she told AFP. “So there is always access to a safe abortion if a woman becomes pregnant unintentionally”† But it’s far from guaranteed, many abortion rights advocates worry.
“Very dangerous medical procedures”
The US Medicines Agency, the FDA, approved the use of these pills about 20 years ago. Last year she gave permission to send it by mail. But in anti-abortion states, its use remains a legal gray area and will certainly be the subject of lawsuits.
On Sunday, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem confirmed that medical abortions were by telemedicine “very dangerous medical procedures” and that they should only be done under medical supervision.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research center that campaigns for access to birth control and abortion around the world, 19 US states require abortion pills to be administered by a health professional, banning mail delivery.
And in states that ban all methods of abortion, women could be banned from seeing doctors in another state or abroad for teleconsultation. In this case, they would have to travel to another state where these appointments would be allowed and receive their envelope at an address outside their state. But the obstacles don’t stop there.
Progressive states: new measures
A medical abortion is done in two stages: first with mifepristone and then, 24 to 48 hours later, misoprostol to induce labor. The question therefore arises: Can a woman residing in an anti-abortion state be prosecuted if she receives the first dose elsewhere, but the second after returning home?
While progressive states are taking steps to make abortion easier for women in other parts of the country, conservative states may try to sue health professionals and groups involved in these efforts. And even the patients themselves.
Ahead of such plans, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned on Friday, June 24, that states cannot ban abortion pills as federal regulations are in effect, predicting a showdown in court.